Rural round-up

July 19, 2014

Regen owner named Mumtrepreneur of the Year:

Wellington businesswoman Bridgit Hawkins has been named Fly Buys Mumtrepreneur of the Year in the Fly Buys Mumtrepreneur Awards.

Hawkins’ business, Regen Ltd, helps dairy farmers manage a key issue – disposing of cattle effluent. The company has developed software that turns data, including soil moisture, temperature and rainfall, into a simple daily recommendation that’s sent to the farmer by text message.

Since Regen launched in 2010, the company has helped hundreds of farms across the country manage effluent disposal efficiently and its customer numbers have doubled year on year. . .

$107.5m to Lincoln University science rebuild:

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government has approved in principle to provide up to $107.5 million in capital funding toward the rebuilding of Lincoln University’s science facilities destroyed in the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Lincoln University suffered very significant damage in the Canterbury earthquakes, and this money will assist the university with its rebuild programme and help it get back fully on its feet. Lincoln is focused on growing its undergraduate enrolments and the rebuild of its key facilities is the next stage in returning it to sustainable operations”, Mr Joyce says.

Lincoln University lost more than 40 per cent of its academic floor space in the Canterbury earthquakes, including much of its facilities for science teaching and research. The rebuild will involve demolishing the badly damaged Hilgendorf and Burns buildings, and replacing them with modern facilities. . .

Federated Farmers on Ruataniwha appeal:

While Federated Farmers did not lodge an appeal with the High Court against the Board of Inquiry decision on the Ruataniwha Dam and the associated Plan Change 6, it is now considering options in light of Hawke’s Bay & Eastern Fish & Game Councils lodging an appeal.

“Federated Farmers principal interests are in the plan change rather than the dam, which was given consent to proceed,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay Provincial President.

“I cannot comment on the merits of Fish & Game’s appeal until we see it next week.

“Since we now know of Fish & Game appeal, we must now reconsider the best way forward.  I need our members to know that we do have options.

“It seems farcical since the news today says Kiwi farmers will have to make big changes to cope with climate change, following release of the International State of the Climate report.  Yet more reasons to store water. . . .

Looking for the South Island’s next top farmer:

The South Island’s next top farmer is out there and Federated Farmers wants to see farmers nominated for the 2014 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award. The 2013 award being won by the winemaker, Peter Yealands.

“New Zealand farming does not celebrate success enough,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers National President.

“As the farmer-comedian Te Radar told us at Federated Farmers’ National Conference, we do not take time to stop and appreciate just how good our farmers really are. . .

Levy vote about capturing wool’s value -  Chris Irons:

In recent news, one might think that sheep farming is all about red meat, but the sheep farmer’s story is not all about protein. We farm a dual purpose animal and whilst the red meat side is performing, its fibre counterpart has yet to reach its full potential.

Sheep farmers are world leaders in producing fibre; supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool, we are the world’s third largest wool exporter. To capture that value behind the farm gate and building the industry’s worth of $700 million, we need a Wool Levy.

The Wool Levy Consultation has been officially launched, and the Referendum will be voted on the 10th October. Imagine the possibilities, with the average value of our raw wool exports having increased by 38 percent from 2010 to 2014. . . .

Rural elderly communities to struggle – report:

An ageing population where deaths outnumber births will be a challenge for rural communities who won’t be able to afford the services they need, according to analysis of New Zealand census data.

The challenges of adapting to an older population are highlighted in the Our Futures report, by an expert panel at the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Panel chairman, Professor Gary Hawke, says the review is a unique multi-disciplinary approach that looks at the big picture.

“We wanted to highlight what an evolving New Zealand society might look like, what is underlying these changes, and the challenges and opportunities these present.” . . .

Mixed fortunes at wool auction:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the South Island auction offering 10,122 bales this week received varied support despite a weaker New Zealand dollar compared to the last sale on 10th July.

The weighted currency indicator was down 1.11 percent with 81 percent of the offering being sold.

Steady demand from China underpinned the Fine Crossbred sector, however most carpet wool types eased as contracts in this area have been harder to conclude recently. . .

Value Creation and Environmental Sustainability for Marlborough Wine Industry By-Products:

Marlborough’s wine producers have come together with the Marlborough District Council in a new collaborative approach to the management of grape marc disposal, to generate a new, commercially viable and environmentally sustainable product from grape waste.

Facilitated by the District Council, participating wine companies have formed the “Marlborough Grape Marc (MGM) group” to advance a proposal for an environmentally sustainable use of the wine industry’s waste streams.

The MGM group is chaired by Eric Hughes of Pernod Ricard Winemakers with representatives from Cloudy Bay, Constellation Brands, Delegat’s, Giesen, Indevin, Matua, Mount Riley, NZ Wineries, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Saint Clair and Villa Maria. The group members generate approximately 80% of the wine production in Marlborough. MGM is an open collective, it is hoped that further companies will join and support this industry wide initiative. . .


Will the payout go down?

July 18, 2014

When Fonterra announced its forecast payout for the 2014/15 season some thought it was optimistic.

After this week’s large drop in the GlobalDairyTrade price index and no encouraging signs for recovery in the short term a revised forecast for a lower payout is expected.

Federated Farmers is warning farmers to prepare for something less than the opening forecast of $7:

“The reality is that the world is having a near-perfect production season with Europe and the Americas having a blinder,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chair.

“The fall in GlobalDairyTrade reflects supply and demand.  With good weather, high milk prices and grain availability, global dairy production has ramped up.

“While GDT Prices may have come off there is no milk lake of yesteryear.  The world needs to grow a lot more than New Zealand’s annual production every year just to meet demand.

“In the short term, I would recommend dairy farmers start planning for payout forecasts being predicted by the banks of $6 to $6.25 kg/MS.  We need to remember $6 kg/MS is the practical breakeven for about twenty percent of the industry with high production costs.

“Be conservative by focussing on debt and prioritising productive investment.

“This volatility in the payout shows that when politicians start mouthing off about new taxes specifically for farmers, without a clear objective of what they could achieve aide from being affordable in one year, they miss the reality that good years usually alternate with bad years. . .

Many farmers used last season’s record payout to repay debt and the prudent budgeted for a reduced income this season.

Even so, a lower payout will mean farmers re-look at budgets and there will be less money to spend in rural communities and the wider economy.

However, while the payout will be lower than last season’s and almost certainly lower than the opening forecast, it is still expected to be at least at, if not better than the average for the last few years.

The outlook isn’t as optimistic as hoped but that’s no reason to be pessimistic about it, or dairying.


Rural round-up

July 14, 2014

Help sought for flooded farms:

Northland Rural Support Trust has put out a call for emergency grazing and feed supplies for farmers whose land is under water after the past week’s storm and prolonged rainfall.

Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said the flood prone Hikurangi Swamp area, north of Whangarei, has been one of the worst affected.

“We’ve got up to 30 farms flooded in the Hikurangi Swamp area, we’ve got nine at least flooded further down in Tangiteroria, and even those that aren’t actually flooded are still cut off”, she said. . .

Greens’ water policy unrealistic:

Irrigation New Zealand (INZ) thinks that there is some merit in the Green Party’s environmental policy relating to water announced today, but is concerned about the economic and social impacts of the policy and about how the Green Party will achieve its outcomes.

INZ agrees that dams must not be built on New Zealand’s pristine rivers and where possible new dams should be located off-river. It also agrees that ‘no go’ areas should be identified.

But INZ does not agree that dams and irrigation destroy rivers or add to pollution if they are designed and constructed properly.

“The reality is that New Zealand needs large scale water storage. This is essential for town and city drinking water supplies, as well as to produce fresh food,” says Andrew Curtis, chief executive of INZ.. .

Green’s need to get on the water policy bus:

Instead of attacking policy that will massively improve New Zealand water quality, Federated Farmers says the Green Party would be more credible if it showed a lot more bipartisan leadership in supporting that policy.

“The new National Policy Statement (NPS) of Freshwater, actually requires regional councils to maintain or improve water quality while giving the wider community the choice of how far they want to go in order to improve our lakes and rivers,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“If the community wants to ensure that certain rivers and lakes are safe for swimming that is supported within the NPS.  But the NPS also requires they be fully informed as to the effect upon jobs, rates and their local economy, when making that choice.

“To leap into swimming as the gold standard for all, without some sort of exceptions regime, will likely cost urban ratepayers massively in the pocket. . .

Fonterra cheese jewel on target - Esther Ashby-Coventry:

The $73 million expansion of the Fonterra mozzarella factory at Clandeboye near Timaru is on track to go online in August 2015.

More than 360 contractors and tradespeople have been working on the project this off-season, with the majority from local companies. Most of the construction materials were bought within New Zealand and the rest manufactured offshore. At any one time there are between 75 and 100 people on the project.

More than 25 new staff members will be required for the factory once it is complete. They are being employed in staggered groups to begin their training. . .

Where is PGG Wrightson heading? -  Keith Woodford:

The last decade has been tumultuous for leading agricultural services company PGG Wrightson. The current company was formed in 2005 with the merger of Pyne Gould Guinness and Wrightson. That merger was led by well-known agribusiness entrepreneur and former Fonterra CEO, Craig Norgate,

Norgate then took PGG Wrightson on a rough ride. It was he who provided the intellectual leadership behind the massive land buying associated with the PGG Wrightson offshoot Farming Systems Uruguay. This subsequently ran into trouble with the coalescence of a major drought and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Norgate also led the proposal for PGG Wrightson to purchase a 50% share in Silver Fern Farms for $220 million. That too ran into trouble due to the Global Financial Crisis. . . .

NZ butchers defend tri-nations title -

New Zealand’s Sharp Blacks have defended their tri-nations butchers title against Australia and the United Kingdom.

The team of six Kiwis battled the Brits and Aussies over two hours at the Royal Yorkshire Show in Harrogate as they turned a side of beef and a whole lamb into 50 products fit for a top shelf butcher’s display.

New Zealand won the tri-nations on home slabs at Wanaka last year and captain Corey Winder, from Christchurch, says winning gold on the other side of the world has been a career highlight. . . 

Japan deal opens FDI money flow - Tony Boyd:

ONE of the least understood aspects of the Australia-Japan trade agreement signed this week is the profound change it will bring to foreign direct investment (FDI) into Australia.

The agreement lifts the screening threshold at which private Japanese investment in non-sensitive sectors is considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) from $248 million to $1 billion.

Japanese takeovers in excess of $250 million have never caused a problem for the FIRB and there have been plenty of those over the past 10 years. Nevertheless, the free trade agreement has reserved policy space to screen proposals for investment in agricultural land and agribusinesses at lower levels than $1 billion. . .

New Zealand bra fence braless again:

A fence with hundreds of bras tied to it in Central Otago is looking a bit bare.

Hundreds of bras were cut from the controversial Cardrona Valley bra fence about four or five days ago, Cardrona Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Barrie Morgan told NZ Newswire.

The whimsical fence has existed for about 14 years and has become a popular tourist attraction but some locals regard it as an eyesore and traffic hazard.

The council took it down in 2006 but it was revived a short time later. Bras were mysteriously removed in 2013. . .


Rural round-up

July 13, 2014

The power of water - Bryan Gibson:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers are still confident catchment landowners will invest in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Takapau farmer Richard Dakins believes the scheme will reach investment goals, even though many farmers are still digesting the Environmental Protection Agency board of inquiry’s final report on the $265 million dam.

Dakins, who farms a 350ha mixed-arable operation, with 150ha irrigated, at the southwestern end of Ruataniwha Plains, said the scheme was vital for Central Hawke’s Bay.

“The region is not in a good state, really, but the scheme will give landowners the confidence to invest in their properties and that will benefit everyone downstream,” he said.

Rob Wilson, who farms a few kilometres from the proposed dam site, agreed. . .

‘Safety first’ call goes out to weather-hit Northland farmers:

Federated Farmers Northland calls for farmers to put safety first with no farming fatalities or serious injuries to date.  With the wet weather set to continue and the power out in some areas, it wants neighbours to band together.

“I think you can safely say the drought’s over give the biblical amount of rain that’s come our way,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“Right now it’s a cracker of a day up here in fact you can call it steamy.  I just hope policymakers regionally and nationally will remember these past few days if we’re talking El Nino come the summer.   Water storage would have been awesome given what we’ve had. . .

Core Truths: 10 Common GMO Claims Debunked – Brooke Boral:

Later this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture may approve the Arctic Granny and Arctic Golden, the first genetically modified apples to hit the market. Although it will probably be another two years before the non-browning fruits appears in stores, at least one producer is already scrambling to label its apples GMO-free.  The looming apple campaign is just the latest salvo in the ongoing war over genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—one that’s grown increasingly contentious.

Over the past decade, the controversy surrounding GMOs has sparked worldwide riots and the vandalism of crops in Oregon, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Philippines. In May, the governor of Vermont signed a law that will likely make it the first U.S. state to require labels for genetically engineered ingredients; more than 50 nations already mandate them. Vermont State Senator David Zuckerman told Democracy Now!, “As consumers, we are guinea pigs, because we really don’t understand the ramifications.”

But the truth is, GMOs have been studied intensively, and they look a lot more prosaic than the hype contends. To make Arctic apples, biologists took genes from Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties, modified them to suppress the enzyme that causes browning, and reinserted them in the leaf tissue. It’s a lot more accurate than traditional methods, which involve breeders hand-pollinating blossoms in hopes of producing fruit with the desired trait. Biologists also introduce genes to make plants pest- and herbicide-resistant; those traits dominate the more than 430 million acres of GMO crops that have already been planted globally. Scientists are working on varieties that survive disease, drought, and flood. . .

Winemaker takes on black beetle -

A winemaker has teamed with researchers to find biological controls to manage brown beetles.

The brown beetle (Costelytra zealandica) can be kept under control with insecticides but causes problems for organic or biodynamic vineyards. 

This same beetle in its immature stages is known as the grass grub, a pest to farming pastures for decades. 

Kono Beverages, producer of Tohu and Aronui wines, is co-leading a project to study the life cycle of the brown beetle to find sustainable ways to stop the damage it causes in vineyards. 

They have teamed with PhD student Mauricio González Chang and Professor Steve Wratten, from the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.  . .

 

Top genetic selection produces biggest antlers  – Heather Chalmers:

Producing deer with some of the biggest antlers in New Zealand takes careful genetic selection and a dollop of luck, says South Canterbury deer farmer Chris Petersen.

Just as others follow the breeding lines of thoroughbred racehorses, Petersen does the same for deer.

“I know all the top stags and hinds in New Zealand. I study them.”

Farming Highden Deer Park with his wife Debra at Sutherlands near Pleasant Point, his stags are highly regarded for their antlers, both for trophies and velvet. The 130 hectare rolling downlands farm carries 364 spikers and mixed-age stags, 122 mixed-age hinds and 55 18-month hinds, as well as this season’s progeny. Most stags are grown out to seven years old for the trophy market, with 27 out of 30 sold last year. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 10, 2014

India’s massive buffalo exports reflect different approach to food safety – Alan Barber:

India has exported well over 500,000 tonnes of buffalo to Vietnam in 10 months of the latest July to June year. This figure easily exceeds the total of New Zealand’s beef exports to all countries.

Over the same period India’s total bovine (buffalo) exports were 1.45 million tonnes at an average value of US$3041 (NZ$3475), while the average price to Vietnam was US$3489 (NZ$3987), an increase of 40% since 2012. Other main markets in order of importance are Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

In comparison New Zealand’s beef exports command an FOB price of between $5000 to the USA, Canada, Korea and China and up to $9000 to French Polynesia, the highest paying market, with other main markets such as Japan, Taiwan and Europe at various points in between. . . .

Consultation opens on infant formula proposals:

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the opening of consultation on measures that aim to ensure the robustness of the government’s assurance system for infant formula exports.

“In June last year I announced a work plan to further protect and strengthen confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance systems, to match rapid growth in infant formula exports,” Ms Kaye says.

“Export assurances are particularly important for infant formula exports where consumers have strong concerns about food safety, quality and product integrity.” . . .

Wools of NZ:

It’s not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.Photo: It's not our wool, we borrow it from nature to where we can return it.

Why politicians shouldn’t be on the field of play – Andrew Hoggard:

In case you were expecting Willy Leferink this week, there has been a bit of a change at Federated Farmers.  My name is Andrew Hoggard and I am the new Dairy Industry Group chair.  That’s not the only change.  Being a North Islander you may get a slightly different perspective on things as I farm with my wife and two children near Fielding in Manawatu. That’s of course the region which gave us that planning beast called “One Plan.”

At Federated Farmers National Conference last week, we heard from political leaders from across the spectrum.

One common theme that annoyed me and the farmers around me was this notion that New Zealand is doing the wrong thing in the marketing of its agricultural products.  That we are not adding value and are just doing cheap and nasty commodity products thanks to industrial farming practices.  Oh and the primary industries are like putting all our economic eggs in one basket.  Now where have I heard that before? . . .

Environment Southland listening to farmers:

Federated Farmers commends Environment Southland for listening to the concerns of Hill and High Country farmers, and delaying notification of the proposed Hill and High Country Development Plan Change today.

“The council’s decision, having engaged and taken on board farmers concerns, will result in better outcomes for farmers and the environment,” says Allan Baird Federated Farmers Southland acting provincial president.

“Taking time to fully consider the issues, potential impacts, inclusive of the whole community and their values, is a fundamental part of the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, and needs to be central in all decision making. . .

Finalists of Consultant of the Year Awards announced:

The judges have deliberated and the finalists have been selected for this year’s annual Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.

Today Farmax announced the finalists for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, and NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.

Farmax general manager, Gavin McEwen, said it was great to see such a high standard of talent and skills amongst the nominations. . . .


Rural round-up

July 9, 2014

Thoughts from the UK – Alan Barber:

While in the UK briefly last week I spent a couple of nights with an old university friend who actually got a First in Agriculture at Cambridge which was the best degree achieved by any of my friends or, not surprisingly, me. He farms near the M4 in Berkshire less than 100 kilometres from London.

As usual when I see him, we were chatting about the state of agriculture in our respective countries. He asked me whether I needed a ‘pommie farmer whinge’ to provide some material for a column, so not unnaturally I told him to go ahead. His first complaint was about the amount of New Zealand lamb competing with British lamb in the supermarkets. I suggested the view back home was the natural seasonal fit of New Zealand product didn’t really cut across, but rather complemented, the seasonal availability of British lamb. . .

Professional Foresters Award Their Achievers:

Leaders in the forestry industry were recognised at the New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s annual awards dinner held in Napier last night.

Forester of the Year was awarded to Paul Nicholls, managing director of Rayonier NZ,for outstanding service to the forestry industry.

The award is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognising contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity. . . .

 Agrarian socialism’s sticky end? - David Leyonhjelm :

THE sugar industry is notorious for attaching itself to the public teat. Concentrated in several marginal seats along the Queensland coast, it has a long history of extracting taxpayer subsidies when prices are down, coercing governments into mandatory use of ethanol in fuel, and blocking imports of both sugar and ethanol.

Most famously, a decade ago it received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to help it restructure in the face of low prices. Prices bounced back soon after the scheme commenced and, apart from the impact of abolition of the single desk in 2006, not a lot of restructuring occurred. They kept the money though.

A major controversy has now erupted as a result of the decision by the sugar processing company Wilmar to sell all its sugar direct to international customers rather than via the grower-owned marketing organisation, Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL), beginning in 2017. This has prompted another processor, Thai-owned MSF Sugar, to suggest it may follow suit. True to form, there are numerous calls for regulators and governments to intervene. A horde of politicians, including the Queensland Minister for Agriculture, is taking a close interest. . . .

 Environmental support for sheep and beef farmers:

Sheep and beef farmers will have a stronger voice in the regions on environmental issues, through an agreement between Federated Farmers and Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has added a regional policy capacity to its national and international policy activities directed at sustainability, through a contract with Federated Farmers to use its regional policy network.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Dr Scott Champion said: “Federated Farmers has an excellent regional network. Rather than duplicate that, we’ve reached an agreement to use its resources on regional environmental issues.

“We think this is the most efficient way of using sheep and beef farmers’ money to strengthen our voice in this important area.” . .

Genetics used to combat facial eczema:

Dairy farmers battling the devastating livestock disease facial eczema are getting help from scientists and a cattle breeding company.

Facial eczema is a fungal disease spread from spores in pasture. It can kill livestock and is estimated to cost dairy farmers about $160 million a year in lost milk production.

AgResearch and CRV Ambreed, with the backing of DairyNZ, are taking a genetics approach by breeding dairy cattle that are more resistant to the disease. . .

Clue to late puberty in sheep discovered by AgResearch:

A needle-in-a-haystack search for the genetic cause of delayed puberty in a flock of Romney ewes has paid off for a team of AgResearch scientists.

Understanding what regulates the arrival of puberty is important for livestock breeding as well as human health.

Researchers in AgResearch’s Animal Reproduction team at Invermay had noticed that late puberty was a family trait in their research flock. This caused the late developers to miss out on lambing during what could be their first breeding season. They had previously demonstrated that late developers also produce fewer lambs during their lifespans. . .

Rural talent on display in Lincoln:

Every year New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members from across the country come together to catch up, cheer on their Grand Finalist at the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, compete in the clay target shooting, fencing and stock judging national finals and attend the Annual General Meeting.

The top scoring competitors from the regional levels represented their regions as they battled it out for top place at the finals in Lincoln University, Friday 4 July.

The winner of the Gun City Clay Target Shooting Final was Waikato/Bay of Plenty’s Jeffrey Benson of the Hamilton City Young Farmers Club followed by Isaac Billington of the South Waikato Club and in third place was Otago/Southland representative, Brendon Clark of the Tokomairiro Club. . .


Digging deep to help neighbours

July 8, 2014

Our district has been deeply shaken by the shooting of more than 200 sheep.

But good can come from bad and that was illustrated at the special fundraising sale at Waiareka yesterday:

The sale raised close to $22,500 for the Stackhouse and Dodd families, both victims of recent sheep killings on their properties, with stock agents reporting ”generous” prices being paid.

Meanwhile, about $11,400 has been deposited in the Westpac bank account set up by Rural Women NZ North Otago.

When contacted, Ngapara farmer Peter Stackhouse said he was overwhelmed by the support shown.

”Words can hardly describe it … we’re really, really privileged to be in the North Otago area. We didn’t expect anything; it’s very, very humbling,” he said. . .

While the sale was about country people showing their support, he said he had also had calls from urban dwellers who were also very concerned and thinking about them.

The next best thing now would be for someone to be apprehended for the offending, he said.

Tapui farmer John Dodd said it showed ”good human nature against the opposite side of it” and he thanked the public for their support.

”Once you pick on one farmer, in my opinion, you’re picking on the whole lot. Farmers respond with kind hearts,” Mr Dodd said.

The sale was an initiative of Federated Farmers and the community, and it drew a much larger crowd than usual to the weekly Waiareka stock sale.

Organiser Greg Ruddenklau was ”over the bloody moon” with the result, after 168 sheep and several cattle beasts were donated.

”It just shows how much people care really, doesn’t it?” Mr Ruddenklau said.

While demonstrating the level of support for the farmers affected, it also showed that people ”don’t want these sort of things happening in North Otago, or anywhere”. . .

During spirited bidding, auctioneer Rod Naylor quipped: ”I wish it was like this every week”. . .

Mr Naylor said prices overall at the sale were ”generous”, compared to usual market value, which showed the buyers’ goodwill.

He described the result as ”tremendous” saying both the numbers of stock yarded and the prices achieved were higher than what had been expected.

Police said there were no further reported similar incidents over the weekend.

The first incident happened over the weekend of June 21-22 when 195 sheep were killed on the Stackhouse property, and at least a further 20 sheep were killed on the Dodd farm the following weekend.

In both incidents, police believed a firearm was used. Police actively patrolled the Ngapara area over the weekend and would continue to conduct patrols in the area, Detective Warren Duncan said.

A small investigation team, including some Dunedin staff, was working through information received from members of the public and carrying out inquiries.

Anyone with information should contact Oamaru police on (03) 433-1400 or call Det Duncan confidentially on (03) 433-1416.

Everyone in the area knows that this could have happened to anyone of us and everyone is happy to dig deep to help neighbours.

Money can’t replace decades of breeding which went in to the stud stock which were shot, nor can it take away the fear. But the generosity and good will locally and from further afield is heart warming.

We’ve been impressed by the police response too.

One of our staff was stopped and questioned on his way home late on Saturday night and a woman who had stopped to admire the stars found her car surrounded by police.


Not just farmers fear Green influence

July 8, 2014

Jon Morgan says farmers should fear Greens’ influence:

He’s right and they do.

Farming has moved a long way in the past few years and the current leadership of Federated Farmers gets some of the credit for that.

Instead of being defensive and/or belligerent  as previous administrations often were, they have accepted problems where they exist and worked hard to encourage farmers make improvements where they’re needed.

Farmers have been helped by improvements in monitoring and advice and further encouraged by meat and milk companies which are requiring much higher standards from their suppliers.

Where carrots haven’t worked, there are sticks. Regional Councils are imposing higher standards and taking a very strict approach to breaches of compliance.

In North Otago, at least, the return of farmers’ adult children in big numbers for the first time since the ag-sag of the 1980s has also helped bring fresh eyes and new approaches to farming practices.

The requirement for shareholders in North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme to have environmental farm plans which are independently audited each year has helped focus farmers’ on their responsibility for care of the soil and water.

The resurrection of the North Otago Sustainable Land Management group has helped with education in best practice.

In spite of this most of the publicity about farming and the environment is negative and that’s what Green policy appears to be based on resulting in more restrictions and higher costs.

Mix that with Labour’s policies and throw in the influence of New Zealand First and Internet Mana and farmers are right to fear a change of government in which the Green party would have a say.

But it’s not just farmers – the rest of the country which eats the food they produce and benefits from the export income they earn should be just as worried.

Higher costs and lower productivity won’t help any of us.


Rural round-up

July 7, 2014

From southern farmer to Featherston Street – Gerard Hutching:

One senses Conor English is not the sentimental sort. And yet he confesses to “just about crying” the day he sold a John Deere 1075 Hydro 4 header.

No coincidence, then, that the outgoing Federated Farmers chief executive has a desk littered with models of Massey Ferguson and JD farm machinery.

And although it is about 20 years since he worked fulltime on a farm, he can still wax lyrical over a Massey 188 or a JD 44-40 cropping tractor. Today’s machines, however, are “like 747s” compared to the tractors of yesteryear.

So English knows his way around a farm. Until he arrived in Wellington in the early 1990s, he was in a partnership in Dipton, Southland, near the family farm. . .

Young farmer of the year betters dad’s efforts – Tony Benny:

The winner of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest 2014 grand final David Kidd made history by being the first winner to come from the Northern region in the competition’s 46 year history.

Kidd topped his father Richard’s achievement of coming third in the 1984 final and confessed he’d likely give dad some cheek about their respective finishes.

”Let’s set this as the benchmark for the northern region’s competitor and let’s start a dynasty of northern region chalking up some bolds on the back of that Grand Final programme,” Kidd said after the televised final in Christchurch’s SBS Arena.

With the other six regional finalists Kidd spent Thursday and Friday competing on and off the farm. They had to make a market innovation presentation, sit a written exam, be interviewed, face an HR challenge and give a speech. On-farm competition included hanging gates, cutting up a lamb carcass, welding and splitting firewood. . .

Shearing marathon for cancer – Sally Rae:

Shearing has always been a hobby for Tarras stock manager Cole Wells – but now he had decided to take it one giant step further.

Next year, Mr Wells (28) plans to shear over a 24-hour period – with a break every two hours – to raise money for the Cancer Society, particularly for the research and treatment of prostate cancer.

His goal is to shear between about 750 and 800 crossbred lambs and he has a fundraising target of $24,000, which equates to $1000 an hour. . .

Support needed for dairy hub:

Plans to establish a $26.5 million permanent commercial demonstration dairy farm in Southland need the support of dairy farmers in the region.

”We have one shot to get this right and we need the Southern community behind us, because it is not going to happen without it,” Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) chairman Matthew Richards said.

Mr Richards and project leader Maurice Hardie presented the proposal at an Environment Southland meeting in April. . .

Keen for another crack at TeenAg title – Sally Rae:

Admittedly, there was a little sibling rivalry when the High Country Hillbillies took on the Gumboot Girls – and the rest of New Zealand – in the TeenAg national final.

Holly Malcolm (15) and Ella Sanderson (14), the High Country Hillbillies, and Holly’s sister Georgia (16) and Brittany Caldwell (16), the Gumboot Girls, were representing Aorangi, along with Cody Callaghan and Thomas Yeatman, from Timaru Boys’ High School. . .

Teaching excellence recognised:

Last night, the Prime Minister presented the 2014 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards at a ceremony in Wellington.

Dr Rainer Hofmann, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University, was one of the 2014 recipients.  The nomination recognised Rainer’s ability to reach out to his students to establish relevance and to stimulate real interest as their motivation for learning.   His teaching practices start with the relationship – to produce engaged and successful students by providing the environment for them to want to learn, and to flourish.  The subtle techniques used by Rainer ensure each student can enjoy, and benefit from, the learning environment whilst being pushed to achieve their potential – almost without them realising it because they are enjoying the experience.   

“Rainer embodies the concept of attachment-based learning.  His engaging attitude makes learning easy and his masterful teaching promotes deep, enquiring and life-long learning,” said University of Otago Senior Lecturer, Dr Kumari Valentine, in support of Rainer’s nomination.  . .


We don’t care who’s in government

July 7, 2014

Quote of the day:

Federated Farmers is an apolitical organisation – “we don’t care who is in government as long as they agree with us”.Conor English

Strictly speaking, he doesn’t mean apolitical, which means not interested in politics, he means not politically aligned.

Federated Farmers is a voluntary organisation which supports and advocates for its members.

It works with governments and political parties on behalf of its members and wider rural community to get the best for them, not to advance any particular political view.

Like other business organisations, and many charities, and unlike most unions, it’s not politically aligned and it’s stronger for that.


Rural round-up

July 5, 2014

 Proud to be a dairy farmer – Will Leferink:

You could say I started back in the day when no one would likely tweet what you said or even know what a tweet was.

I will probably end my Feds career on the national stage with someone tweeting something right now.

So please Tweet this.

I am so very proud of New Zealand’s dairy farmers.

To use farming vernacular you are good buggers.

I am not talking our immense economic contribution because everyone gets that.

I am talking about the fantastic contribution being made by us environmentally. . .

Minister corrects incorrect claims about national freshwater standards:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today moved to correct incorrect and misleading comments made about the Government’s ground-breaking national freshwater standards.

The Government yesterday announced clear, robust national standards for freshwater that will make a significant improvement to the way freshwater is managed.

This means, for the first time, New Zealand’s rivers and lakes will have minimum requirements that must be achieved so the water quality is suitable for ecosystem and human health.

However, some, including the Green Party, the Labour Party and Massey University environmental ecologist Dr Mike Joy, have resorted to making incorrect claims about the freshwater reforms that have gone unchallenged.

“Some of New Zealand’s best freshwater scientists came up with numeric values for the national standards.

“Ministers have not been involved in any way in the scientific detail of the framework. We were deliberately hands-off during this part of the process so we could get the best scientific information. . .

Environment the winner in freshwater reforms:

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, incorporating the National Objective Framework, is the most comprehensive approach to sorting environmental issues for this country’s freshwater resource. While tough on farmers it is equally tough on urban New Zealand.

“Unlike the Green Party, which has the divisive notion the dairy industry should be held accountable for absolutely all water quality, this seminal policy makes it clear that urban and rural water must be treated equally,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Water and Environment Spokesperson, who was also on the NOF reference group.

“Using a local example, this applies equally to the Avon River, the South Island’s most polluted urban waterway even before the earthquakes, as it does to the Hinds River in Mid-Canterbury. . .

Dairy farmers ready to take action to implement water quality standards

Dairy farmers are up for the challenge of working with local communities to fix local water quality problems and deliver on the Government’s new national water quality standards.

“DairyNZ will implement these new standards with farmers. We have a firm commitment from the industry and from our farmers on that front. Where there’s an agreed problem that needs fixing, we’ll get in there and do our bit,” says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore.

“The dairy industry supports farming to environmental limits to solve identified water quality problems. We’re already doing that kind of work across the country with farmers and councils in 15 priority areas. We also spend more than $11 million a year of dairy farmers’ levy money on environmental initiatives including local water quality studies and supporting farmers to take action to fix issues.” . . .

Earthquake-prone buildings farm exemption welcomed as a first step:

Federated Farmers is delighted Government has seen the logic of exempting farm structures from the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as a first step to ensuring the viability of rural towns is not compromised.

“It was mind boggling to hear the Minister cost the inclusion of farm structures in the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill as being an imposition of $170 million,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers new Vice-President.

“We naturally welcome this exemption since no one in the recorded history of farming in New Zealand has ever been killed in a collapsing farm structure during an earthquake. It was a clear case of regulatory overreach. . .

Fonterra Forms Exclusive Partnership with UK-Based Dairy Crest:

Fonterra has entered into an exclusive partnership with UK-based Dairy Crest to market and sell two products for the fast growing global baby food market.

The products – Galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and Demineralised Whey – are both used in the manufacture of infant formulas, and will be manufactured by Dairy Crest. Fonterra will be the dedicated and exclusive sales channel for the infant formula ingredients produced.

Dairy Crest is entering into a newly-formed joint venture with UK-based Fayrefield Foods to produce the GOS. These plants are expected to begin production in 2015. . . .

First NZ tourism attraction to gain certification:

Rotorua’s Te Puia became the first visitor attraction in New Zealand to have staff certified in rural skills today, with its Environment Team members presented with a National Certificate in General Skills Agriculture (Level 2) – Primary Sector.

The Primary ITO, New Zealand’s largest industry training organisation, officially presented the certificates this morning, after 12 months of training on and off-site. The qualification included training in the use of chemicals; driver training for tractors, forklifts and quad bikes; chainsaw use and health and safety.

Te Puia’s Environment Team are responsible for all maintenance across the 70 hectare geothermal site, including horticulture, hygiene and the conservation of native flora and fauna. Part of their role has involved the removal of undergrowth to expose natural geothermal features, with an ongoing focus on ensuring pathways are clear and safe for visitors. . . .

96 Points Rapaura Springs Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Back to Back Double Gold’s:

Marlborough Winery Rapaura Springs is justifiably proud of its recent Double Gold award and 96 point rating at the prestigious San Francisco International Wine Challenge 2014.

One of only a handful of wines from New Zealand to achieve this award, it’s made all the better by the fact we received the same recognition from the esteemed panel of judges last year. Both the 2013 and 2012 vintage Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines have been awarded Double Gold medals. Talk about consistent!

Owner Brendan Neylon praises “a great team effort and an unwavering focus on quality, from the vineyard to the winery”. . .

Luring British Wine Professionals to New Zealand’s Largest Wine region:

Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation are proud to announce that applications for the 2014/2015 Wine Marlborough NZ-UK Link Foundation scholarship are now open.

The history of the scholarship began in 2009 when Wine Marlborough and the NZ-UK Link Foundation, together with the late John Avery MW, established a scholarship to fund an exceptional wine industry professional from the UK to travel to New Zealand to experience Marlborough’s wine industry. The aim of the scholarship is to further the recipient’s wine knowledge and assist in their personal development as a potential leader in the wine industry. . .


Wills signs off saying politics matters

July 5, 2014

Federated Farmers retiring president Bruce Wills used his final speech in the role to say politics matters: (The bold is mine)

I want to start this, my final address as National President of Federated Farmers, with a thank you.

Thank you for the privilege of being your President, thank you for your support, and thank you for all the work you continue to do for Federated Farmers and farming.

Three years has flown by.

I have enjoyed doing ‘my bit’ to help farming remain profitable and sustainable, and like our own aspirations with our farms, I feel I have left this organisation in better heart than I found it. I will return to the hills of Hawke’s Bay later today knowing there is a very capable and competent team to take it from here.

Before signing off I want to reflect on the two things that have absorbed much of my time in this role, the economy and the environment.

The economy
Farming confidence is high and some sectors are close to being as strong now as they have ever been.

Our dairy farmers have just received their highest pay-out in history and there is a quiet optimism in the dry-stock sector with the ‘China affect’ now benefitting red meat and wool.

Food and fibre represents an extraordinary 70 percent of this country’s merchandise exports and if done well is entirely renewable. We are well on the way to doubling the value of our agricultural exports to $64 billion by 2025, on the back of an exploding world population and rising standards of living.

 

I cannot stress enough the importance of free and open trade. In six short years, China has become our biggest export partner as well as our biggest import market.

When I joined the Board of Federated Farmers, in 2008, our two way trade with China was $8 billion. Last month we broke through $20 billion and we are on track to exceed $30 billion within the next six years.

Our 2013 trade deal with Taiwan is ramping up quickly and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) remains a prize we must pursue with all the vigour we can.

No question, we have some challenges.
In recent days the New Zealand Dollar has approached all time highs against both the US Dollar as well as the Trade Weighted Index. This will be a significant headwind and may well prompt a slowing in further interest rate rises.

I have continually cautioned about our very high debt levels.

I note a large monthly increase of $842 million to the end of May reaching a total of just under $53 billion now loaned to our farms alone. In light of global uncertainty across many areas I am not sure how sustainable this sort of debt level is.

A few years ago Australian farmers had $70 billion of rural debt and things looked okay. Then came a serious weather event and now $10 billion of this is ‘non performing’ with a good portion of it unlikely to ever be repaid. We run the same risk here.

I have learnt in this role that ‘politics matters.’

For the past six years we have had a Government that has been largely supportive of agriculture. Should we have a change of Government on September 20, this is unlikely to continue to be the case.

Putting these challenges aside, what I have also learnt from my three years with the World Farmers Organisation is that New Zealand farmers are the envy of the world. Everywhere I travel people are stunned how a small island nation, a long way away, can be such a powerhouse when it comes to producing food and selling it competitively to the rest of the world.

I have learnt that we are a grass fed economy and what happens on our farms absolutely matters on Lambton Quay and Queen Street and all the towns in-between.

We are some of the best farmers on the planet and Agricultural exports will continue to pay the lion’s share of this country’s bills for a long time to come.

The environment
This is the flip side of the economy’s coin, the natural resources, which allow us to keep our food and fibre businesses forever renewable.

Three years ago I called for a more open and honest discussion about farming’s impact on the environment.

We have come a long way. The Land & Water Forum got us talking with all the interested parties and we listened to the concerns of others and have pursued a more collaborative approach to resolving our differences.

Getting agreement is not easy but having the science and being well informed on the issues is the key to making sensible progress. We have engaged a lot with parties right across the economy/environment spectrum and this organisation has gained significant credibility from its more reasoned and reasonable approach.

Some believe it is about winners and losers, I don’t. Farmers understand the ‘black and green’ bit well, it is difficult to invest in environmental innovation without running profitable businesses, and we certainly can’t keep farming without resilient long lasting farming practices.

The big issue of my time in this role has been water. How do we maintain and improve its quality in the face of a growing population, and an expanding and changing farm business environment?

The main focus has been the nutrients we lose from our farms finding their way into our streams, rivers and lakes. We can sort phosphorus, which is largely about good management. It is the diffuse nitrogen leaching that remains our biggest challenge.

All farmers, that I know, strive hard to be profitable and most do a wonderful job looking after their land and their water. Being sustainable is good business, and wasting expensive nutrients just doesn’t make sense.

We have seen a rapid land use change to dairying in the last twenty years. This has pushed onto lighter soils and in some areas we are seeing too many nutrients being lost. The science is telling us this and farmers have been responding for some time by fencing water ways, riparian planting, preparing strict nutrient plans and adopting more efficient irrigation.

In some sensitive areas more needs to be done, and again farmers are responding by building feed pads, herd homes or other means of controlling effluent runoff. Less inputs and reducing cow numbers are further options, and more science is needed for some. I am very encouraged at how quickly farmers are responding to this challenge.

I had the privilege last week to be in Christchurch to judge NZ’s top 10 supreme environmental winners from all around the country. They are outstanding operators leading by example, running profitable businesses, but well and truly meeting their social and environmental responsibilities as well. I think it is telling that the national winner was a large scale intensive dairy farm, on some of Canterbury’s lighter soils. This is exactly the sort of farm at the sharp end of this economy/environment conundrum that we are trying to solve.

Mark & Devon Slee milk 2,580 cows producing 1,830 kgMS/ha, or 475kgMS/cow, but with precision farming, smart science and exceptional management, are leaching the same nitrogen they were leaching in the mid ‘90’s with 70% more cows. Their immediate focus is on reducing their nutrient losses even more.

This is a clear example that we can and must do both. Whilst running efficient profitable businesses, we must do this within sustainable environmental boundaries. All the other nine finalists had very similar stories to tell.

I need to congratulate the CEO of Fish & Game, who took up my challenge of coming to this awards evening to see for himself the great results that our leading farmers are achieving and to follow this up with a Fish & Game media release that quoted the following:

“Dairying has never won the top national award before,” says Fish & Game Chief Executive Bryce Johnson. “In winning the coveted Gordon Stevenson Trophy, Mark and Devon are demonstrating that environmentally sustainable and profitable dairy farming is not only possible, but up there alongside the other farming categories that have previously won the top national award.”

To ensure all New Zealanders prosper we must continue to grow our largest industry but we must also look after our environment.

This is our challenge; and as I pack my bags and hand over the reins I am more convinced than ever that this is entirely achievable and our farmers are well on the road to making this a reality.

Thank you.

Wills has left Feds, and New Zealand, better for his service.


Guard changes at Feds

July 5, 2014

Federated Farmers has a new president and CEO.

Dr William Rolleston, former vice-president was elected unopposed to lead the organisation and Graham Smith takes over as CEO.

As Vice-President since 2011, I am honoured to be entrusted with a leadership role following in the footsteps of some farming greats,” says Dr Rolleston, Federated Farmers new President.

“Federated Farmers is New Zealand’s foremost rural advocate with a proud past and strong future. 

“Our National Council knows that the President must represent the views of all members and Federated Farmers is a broad church. I endorse this principle.

“I believe we can learn from all form of farming systems, including  organic practices, so long as these are underpinned by robust science.

“Given the overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity, including agriculture, plays a significant role in climate change, science and innovation are key to the future of farming. Science and innovation are also key to the water quality sphere.

“I am fortunate that our Grain & Seed Industry Group chairperson, Ian Mackenzie, is staying on the Board for another year.  His work in the Land & Water Forum was publicly acknowledged yesterday by our Minister for Primary Industries, the Hon Nathan Guy. 

“Ian is widely respected even among the environmental lobby.  His expertise and wise counsel will be welcome.

“As will be the support of my Vice-President, Wairarapa’s Anders Crofoot.  As our buildings spokesperson, I must acknowledge the success Federated Farmers has had in convincing Government to remove farm structures from its earthquake prone buildings Bill.

“A $170 million saving for farmers is an auspicious start for my tenure and a tangible example of the value Federated Farmers delivers for its members and farming in general.

“I will draw on the myriad of skills that the West Coast’s Katie Milne offers, especially on the high profile areas of rural security, employment and adverse events. 

“As a Board Member at large, she is joined in that capacity by Mid-Canterbury’s Chris Allen, who is fast developing expertise in water policy.

“I look forward to working with my newly elected Industry Group chairs, Rick Powdrell from Bay of Plenty for Meat and Fibre and Andrew Hoggard from Manawatu-Rangtikei for Dairy.

“Both are exceptionally talented farmers with an outstanding grasp of industry issues.

“Speaking of extremely talented people, Bruce Wills has been an inspiration to me.  His focus on environment collaboration and communication has done much to represent the modern face of farming.  These are themes I wish to continue with the new Board.

“As a Board it speaks volumes about Federated Farmers that someone of Graham Smith’s calibre came to us to be our new Chief Executive. 

“As Graham has started the handover process with Conor English I wish to thank Conor for his guidance over the period I was Vice-President and before that as a provincial president.

“I am excited by the future,” Dr Rolleston concluded.

Wills and English have overseen a change for the better in Federated Farmers for which all involved in farming and the wider rural community should be grateful.

They have provided a strong foundation on which the new leadership can build and carry on the much-needed work representing and advocating for farmers, farming and rural New Zealand.


Rural round-up

July 3, 2014

Labour policy under fire from Hort NZ:

The Labour’s Party proposed immigration policy has come under fire from the horticulture sector which says it would make life more difficult for growers employing foreign workers.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock said if Labour’s new immigration policy was implemented it would penalise growers using the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

He said they would have to pay foreign workers more than local ones – and pay for their accommodation too.

“Those people (under the RSE scheme) are only brought in when we can prove that there are no New Zealanders to do the work, so we’re concerned it’s going to penalise people who are growing their businesses just because there are not New Zealanders available,” he said. . .

Lower dairy commodity prices and higher interest rates drive down farmer confidence:

Results at a Glance
• New Zealand farmer confidence dropped significantly, led down by a slide in dairy farmer confidence. Higher interest rates also tempering sentiment.
• Beef and sheep farmer confidence, however, rose to three-year high.
• Dairy producers concerned about falling commodity prices and the exchange rate, while sheep and beef farmers buoyed by improving prices.
• Investment intentions remain stable.
• 82 per cent of farmers consider that they are implementing best practices for environmental sustainability in their business.
• Only 50 per cent of farmers considering farm succession have formal plans in place. . . .

Sustainable farming protects economic skeleton:

Agriculture is not only the backbone of our economy, it is also its entire skeleton, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman David Peacocke told the Ballance Farm Environment Awards national sustainability showcase last week.

“To support our economy’s growth and our country’s growth, we need to look after those bones. That work starts with us as farmers on the land, but it also needs good working partnerships with regional councils and with local and central government so we can increase productivity and profitability and still safeguard our agricultural future.” . . .

New Meat & Fibre Executive:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Executive have elected their new Chairperson, Rick Powdrell, and consequently elected to the Federation’s Board.

“It is with great pleasure that I hand over the reigns to Rick Powdrell, who has been my vice-Chair for the past year. I would also like to congratulate Sandra Faulkner, as the new vice-Chairperson, the re-election of Chris Irons, and to our two new executive members, Michael Salvesen and Miles Anderson.” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers outgoing Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“The new Meat & Fibre Executive have all been active members of the Federation’s Meat & Fibre Council, and I would like to congratulate them all on their well deserved appointments,” said Mrs Maxwell. . . .

Federated Farmers Dairy elects new executive:

It’s goodbye from him and hello from me

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has elected Fielding farmer Andrew Hoggard as its new chairperson. The Federation’s dairy council also elected Waikato’s Chris Lewis to be one of two vice-chairpersons, joining Kevin Robinson who was reconfirmed in that role.

“I am stoked dairy farmers have placed their faith in me,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers new Dairy chairperson.

“Willy has been a great leader and it is comforting to know he’s just at the end of the telephone.

“The challenges and arguments about dairy have grabbed the headlines but this has masked many of the good things dairy farmers are doing. . .

July marks final countdown for cattle in NAIT transition:

Farmers have one year left to make sure all cattle are tagged and registered with NAIT.

“We are entering the final 12 months of NAIT’s three-year transition for cattle. By 1 July 2015, all stock should be tagged and registered in the NAIT database,” said Dan Schofield, Acting NAIT and Farm Operations Manager.

This includes cattle that were born before the NAIT scheme became mandatory on 1 July 2012. Cattle born since July 2012 must be tagged within six months of birth, or before they are moved off farm, whichever comes first. . . .

Safety And Quality First for Forestry – Changes announced for national forestry training qualifications:

A review of qualifications for forestry workers led by industry training organisation Competenz has resulted in new qualifications being developed with an increased focus on health and safety, and environmental protection and quality.

The New Zealand Certificates, to be launched later this year, will give more weight to essential knowledge like health and safety and quality. They also increase the focus on supervisory and crew management skills.

Competenz’s newly appointed national manager, Mark Preece, says the organisation has closely collaborated with contractors, workers, forest owners, trainers and assessors throughout the country to develop the new qualifications. . . .

New Zealand’s Multi- Million Dollar Bee Industry Moving Towards One Body:

The country’s bee industry could soon be represented by one body, following a mandate given at the NZ Apiculture Industry conference last week.

“I recognised a clear indication from the both the floor at the conference and the AGM for the NBA to explore the value in uniting with other industry stakeholders in the formation of a single representative industry body,” says NBA President Ricki Leahy.

“For us to get results it is important that all the different categories within the industry such as commercial beekeepers, hobbyists, exporters, packers, and researchers and others, speak with one, united, clear voice, and that we are all on the same page when talking to government.”

Meanwhile Federated Farmers Bees agrees. . .


Rural round-up

July 2, 2014

Amazing claptrap over wind thrown trees:

Federated Farmers West Coast is staggered by the rhetoric on the Wind Thrown Trees Bill, passed under urgency last night, which allows for the recovery and use of native timber felled in Cyclone Ita.

“Being a Coaster, recycling dead trees into jobs will be good for us all,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president. 

“We’ll be able to salvage something from Ita’s natural calamity being jobs if not new businesses.  That’s something Federated Farmers supports.

“Even if some guys come in from outside the Coast, they have to stay somewhere and they have to be fed and watered too.  They will also need to have their equipment serviced so we’re more open-minded.  . .

Meat & Fibre – Climbing to the top:

Speech by Jeanette Maxwell Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson, to Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Council at Federated Farmers AGM, Palmerston North

It is my pleasure to welcome you here to my last Meat & Fibre AGM as your chair.

Since our last AGM, in Ashburton last year, there has been some significant engagement within the industry and amongst our Meat & Fibre Council. . .

Launch of Wool Levy Farmer Consultation:

The Wool Levy Referendum Wool Grower Consultation was officially launched at Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre AGM today, in an effort to add value to the industry.

“Wool should be our first choice, it is the fibre of the future and this referendum’s is the industry’s chance to make a difference to its future,” says Sandra Faulkner, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Executive and Wool Levy Group Chairperson.

“Sheep is not a one dimensional animal, it is dual purpose but the value of wool is not recognised here or overseas, and as a result we are underselling ourselves in the market. New Zealand is the world’s third largest wool producer supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool. With 30 industry bodies in New Zealand, wool is the only primary sector that isn’t represented. . .

Farmers get into the Port business:

Three years after welcoming the formation of Kotahi, the joint freight logistics of Fonterra Cooperative Group and Silver Fern Farms, Federated Farmers South Canterbury is excited that the Port of Timaru will play a leading role in exporting South Island product to the world.

“Since Kotahi translates as standing together as one Federated Farmers is excited about what this means for South Canterbury’s development as a major South Island’s logistics hub,” says Ivon Hurst, Federated Farmers South Canterbury provincial president.

“News that Kotahi is to hub out of Timaru is great. News that Kotahi has taken a half-share in the Port of Tauranga owned container terminal operating assets at PrimePort is fantastic. . .

Top Chefs Do Amazing Things with Vegetables

The winners of the New Zealand Vegetarian Dish Challenge 2014, a national competition celebrating the very best of fresh New Zealand vegetables were announced today.

Auckland’s The Riverhead’s demi-chef, Subhashini Sathanantham won the Breakfast category with her inspired dish of golden kumara and red beetroot tart, quail eggs, cauliflower sausage, potato toast, garlic-infused vine tomatoes, buttered spinach and pumpkin hollandaise.

Subhashini said that the win had given her a huge step up in her career and she was thrilled her passion for vegetables had caught the judges’ attention. . .

Seed Company Gains Organic Certification:

A Bay of Plenty business has just become New Zealand’s Largest Organically Certified Mail Order Seed Company. Kings Seeds have always lead the way when it comes to supplying gardeners the best range of seeds online and via their popular catalogue. After an extensive certification process overseen by BioGro NZ, the Kings Seeds team is proud to announce their status as having New Zealand’s largest range of Organically Certified seed.

Gerard Martin, Owner, Kings Seeds, says; “We’ve only ever supplied internationally certified organic seeds so it just made sense to formalise this by applying for New Zealand accreditation. For us, it reinforces our commitment to provide New Zealand gardeners with the most extensive range of organic seeds. A big thanks to the BioGro NZ team who did a thorough job of scrutinizing our business to ensure that we met their strict criteria. We’re extremely proud to have come through the process with flying colours.” . . .

Anglers appalled at Labour’s recreational fishing ideas:

Anglers are appalled at the policy and ideas being advocated by Labour’s candidate for Kaikoura, Janette Walker, and the support she has gained from Gareth Morgan, the Green benefactor who has ideas of aerially poisoning Stewart Island with 1080 and caging the family cat.

Alan Simmons, Outdoors spokeperson for United Future and an active angler was gob smacked when he read of her ideas presented to a meeting of Marlborough Recreational Fishers last week and then championed by Gareth Morgan as politician of the week.

Labour’s Ideas of licensing and charging all anglers and using the funds to buy quota from the commercial fishing industry will infuriate recreational anglers.  Furthermore Janette Walker and Labour are talking about reducing recreational catches as commercial demand increases forcing anglers to buy back their rights to their fish. . . .

Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale Catalogue Available Now:

Catalogues for New Zealand Bloodstock’s Winter Mixed Bloodstock Sale on Friday 1 August are in the post and available to be viewed online now.

A selection of 97 broodmares account for the majority of this year’s catalogue which also features five yearlings, six two-year-olds, seven unraced stock and 14 racehorses.

Prolific broodmare sire Zabeel has three mares featuring in the Sale, the recently retired Cambridge Stud stalwart is the dam sire of 24 Group 1 winners to date. Also with three mares in the Sale is fellow super sire Danehill, the dam sire of 51 Group 1 winners worldwide. . . .


Rural round-up

June 26, 2014

B+LNZ Lincoln Science Day: Farming 20/20 in 2020:

Thursday, 3 July 2014 Region: Northern South Island Location: 12.30-5pm: Stewart Building, Lincoln University By farmers. For farmers

Bookings are now open for this free farmer science event. Register today.

You will have heard about drones in agriculture, but have you seen one in action? Thought about selectively targeting stock to reduce drench resistance? Is clever winter feeding with fodder beet the latest game changer? How can your smartphone help you work smarter, not harder?

Come along and find out about the technologies that could take farming into the future. . . .

Why are dairy prices spiking?

It’s shaping up to be a historic year for America’s economically important dairy industry.

At the end of August, decades-old dairy price supports will change as the federal government ends its milk income loss contract (MILC) program. MILC guaranteed compensation for dairy producers if domestic milk prices fell below a certain level.

But dairy producers haven’t had to worry too much, at least for the present, about milk prices falling.

Despite a smaller overall beef and dairy herd, due in part to historic drought conditions across parts the U.S., the nation’s milk output is expected to reach a record 206.1 billion pounds this year, up nearly 5 billion pounds from 2013.

Dairy prices have also spiked. “We’ve never seen dairy prices and milk production this high at the same time,” Robin Schmahl, a commodities broker and owner of AgDairy in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin,told AgWeb.com 
back in April. “For dairy producers, the futures looks brighter than it has for a long time.” . . .

Rangatahi learning about land:

It makes sense to upskill rangatahi who will eventually manage the farms on Maori land as more whenua is returned to iwi, the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre says.

The Masterton-based centre has joined with Papawai Marae, near Greytown, to provide agricultural training for 15 Kuranui College students on the Ringa Raupa Ringa Ahuwhenua pilot programme.

Taratahi Maori Agribusiness co-ordinator Ben Matthews said it was important to guide young Maori on a rural career path to set them up for the future. . . .

Cow comfort key to stand-off pads:

Farmers considering investing in stand-off pads must make cow comfort their number one priority, according to new DairyNZ research.

Information from the three-year study into stand-off pads, a farm facility which helps farmers prevent pasture damage in wet weather, has been released in a new resource – Stand-off pads – your essential guide to planning, design and management.

DairyNZ farm systems specialist Chris Glassey says the research followed eight North Island farms with stand-off pads during the winter months of May until August. The Northland and Waikato farms were monitored for hours of pad use, pad stocking density, surface material deterioration and cow comfort. . . .

Progress on forestry safety action:

In the first five months of this year, the number of serious injuries reported in forestry has dropped by nearly half compared with last year, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

“This is positive news and indicates the work the whole industry – the regulator, the forestry companies, the contractors and the workers – has been doing is paying off, but this is not a time to celebrate,” Mr Bridges says.

“I remain concerned that WorkSafe New Zealand is continuing to find very serious levels of non-compliance in the industry.”

WorkSafe New Zealand figures show 46 serious injuries have been reported this year up to the end of May compared with 82 in the same period last year.  This year’s figures are substantially below the six year rolling average for the same period of 77.  . .

 

Media Release from the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC):

New Zealanders are being invited to have their say on the newly drafted animal welfare standards for the temporary housing of companion animals.

The proposed Code of Welfare: Temporary Housing of Companion Animals describes the minimum standards and best practice guidelines that owners and people in charge of animals must achieve to meet their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

“It is essential that owners and people in charge of companion animals in temporary housing facilities are aware of their welfare needs,” says Chair of NAWAC Dr John Hellström. . . .

Bee groups moving towards merger:

The two groups representing beekeepers look set to merge to act as one voice for the industry.

Federated Farmers launched its bee industry group in 2002 after a split with the National Beekeepers’ Association.

For the first time, the organisations are holding a joint conference in Whanganui.

Association president Ricki Leahy said there has been a positive reaction from the industry for them to unite soon. . . .

 


Yes – with conditions

June 26, 2014

The Hawkes Bay Regional Council has given a conditional yes to supporting the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

A $275 million dam and irrigation scheme proposed for Central Hawke’s Bay is a step closer after Hawke’s Bay Regional Council voted this morning to invest up to $80 million in the scheme provided a number of conditions are met over coming months.

Regional councillors voted 6-3 in favour of proceeding with the investment of ratepayer money in the dam based on conditions including that investment is finalised from other investors, contracts are signed with water users to take a sufficient amount of initial water from the scheme and “satisfactory” environmental conditions are handed down from a board of inquiry that has been considering consents for the project.

Debbie Hewitt, representing Central Hawke’s Bay on the regional council, said the project would address farming and social issues in the district and leave a legacy for future generations. . .

One of the conditions is getting farmer support, which ought to be a no-brainer:

A Central Hawke’s Bay farmer is delighted the regional council will put millions into the Ruataniwha Dam scheme. . .

Jeremy Greer’s family operate an 800 hectare farm, but can only water up to 200 hectares at the moment.

Mr Greer says today’s decision is another step in the right direction.

He says it will ensure drought protection and increase production. . .

A number of conditions still have to be met, including finding other investors and ensuring local farmers sign up to the scheme.

Council chair Fenton Wilson says he’s confident they will come to the table with their wallets.

“The community’s got to do its bit now. We’ve got to get commitment and signed contracts unconditional for minimum 40 million cubic metres of water and that work’s ongoing.”

Wilson says this shows other investors and farmers the scheme can be a viable project.

The dam still has to clear several hurdles before it gets the full green light – including the Board of Inquiry’s final decision due in the next 48 hours. . .

Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers’ Kevin Mitchell says farmers look to the next generation when it comes to investing in the land.

“Droughts are coming more frequent on this side of the East Coast of the North Island.

“To have that water available to build resilience in your farming systems is absolutely vital.”

Droughts have a devastating impact on farms, farmers and those who work for, service and supply them.

But production isn’t just reduced in bad years. When a region is drought-prone farmers have to farm conservatively because they can’t rely on getting enough rain when they need it.

A reliable water supply with irrigation not only provides insurance against droughts it will also enable much better production in average and good years.

There are environmental benefits too – irrigation helps reduce soil erosion and can ensure minimum flows in waterways.

 

 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2014

Optimistic over farming sector’s future - Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills stands down next month after three years in the role. He talks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about his tenure and his optimism for the agricultural industry’s future.

His desk might have been cleared in Wellington but New Zealand’s farming community can be assured they have not seen the last of Bruce Wills.

After three years at the governance helm of Federated Farmers and a prior three-year tenure as meat and fibre chairman, his involvement, following the organisation’s annual meeting on July 4, will only be as a ”very loyal” member. . .

Why a carbon tax is udderly useless to us – William Rolleston:

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human activity, including agriculture, plays a significant role in climate change.

Yet the Green Party’s proposal to tax biological emissions is bad policy for climate change and the economy.

Along with every other New Zealander, farmers already pay for their carbon-dioxide emissions in the current Emissions Trading Scheme. The issue, the Greens argue, boils down to biological emissions in the form of methane and nitrous oxide.

Methane is a powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas generated by bacteria in the stomach of farm animals. It lasts around seven years before being converted back to carbon dioxide which is taken up by plants. The methane cycle is complete when animals eat those plants in turn. Methane is measured as kilograms of carbon dioxide based on a 100-year time frame.

This time frame has been chosen by international agreement but any period could have been chosen. . .

Harriet takes on shepherds challenge - Sally Rae:

Harriet Gardner admits she might not be the ”fastest in the world” at it – but she can shear a sheep.

That skill will be crucial when Miss Gardner (20) takes part in the preliminary round of competition at the World Young Shepherds Challenge at Lincoln from July 3-5.

The competition will be held alongside the ANZ Young Farmer Contest grand final events. It will consist of shearing, condition scoring, a quad bike obstacle course, identifying sheep breeds, feet trimming, drenching, counting sheep and demonstrating knowledge ofthe sheep industry. . .

$75m for NZ-Singapore ‘Foods for Health’ projects:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government will invest NZ$1.75 million to fund New Zealand-Singapore collaborative research projects on the development of food products with validated health benefits. 

New Zealand’s investment will be matched by Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), bringing the total investment amount to approximately NZ$3.5 million over two years.

“One of the goals of the Business Growth Agenda is to grow exports from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025. Continuing to develop our innovation in the food science and technology industry will be a key contributor to achieving this,” Mr Joyce says. . . .

A champion for farming :

Fiona Hancox’s father was Colin Richardson, a man who started life as a townie, before eventually owning 12 West Otago farms as well as being extensively involved in farming politics.

Although the son of a tailor, he decided at an early age he wanted to be a farmer.

His first agricultural job was on a property at Crookston, before moving to Gimmerburn to work for the Paterson family and to be a fencing contractor.

Jim Paterson helped him into his first farm – Avalon – at Heriot, when he was 24. . .

Former chair appointed to deer board:

Clive Jermy OMNZ, a well-known red deer stud breeder, has been appointed to the board of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) for a three-year term. He is one of four producer board members, replacing Tim Aitken, Hawkes Bay.

Mr Jermy is a former board chair, standing down in 2007. Before that he was chair of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

NZDFA selection and appointments panel chair David Stevens said the panel had interviewed three skilled and talented candidates and the decision process was extremely challenging. The unsuccessful candidates were Tim Aitken, who stood for re-election and Otago-based businessman and deer farmer Grant Cochrane. . .

 


Do you hear the people . . .

June 21, 2014

Protests by the usual suspects on the left aren’t unusual.

It takes a lot more than the usual disgruntlements to get other people on to the streets in any number which makes yesterday’s Don’t Damn the Dam rally a serious sign of popular support.

RivettingKate Taylor recorded the rally in words and photos:

CHB people gathered in Waipukurau in their droves this morning to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme. The dam.

I was going to say hundreds of people lined the streets, but I really have no way of quantifying how many people were there. Watch the news tonight – they might tell you. Suffice to say, in Kate terms, there were lots and lots.

Farmers, bankers, fertiliser reps, spreader drivers and two former regional councillors Ewan McGregor and Kevin Rose, who are probably secretly glad the decision is not up to them anymore.

There were tractors, utes, motorbikes, stock trucks and a few huntaways. . .

After clogging up the state highway system for a wee while, the vehicle possession (bigger than the annual Christmas parade but no Santa!!) parked up and the “green space” on “post office corner” was filled with claps and cheers for Mr Streeter and Mr Heaton, HB Federated Farmers president Will Foley and local fifth-generation farmer (and CHBDC district councillor) Andrew Watts. We also heard from someone from Timaru who had seen the growth in South Canterbury from the Opuha dam and resulting irrigation systems. . . .

I think the someone from Timaru was Federated Farmers vice president William Rolleston.

Feds is firmly behind the project, but Hawkes Bay provincial president Will Foley is concerned about nutrient limits:

Last month, Massey’s Dr Mike Joy told a Canterbury audience, “The nitrate toxicity in some waterways is 10 times the safe level already. We have gone from safe levels of 1.9 millilitres a litre, to 3.8ml/l in Canterbury.”

With the Tukituki Board of Inquiry proposing a limit of 0.8 milligrams per litre for dissolved inorganic nitrogen, it would seem contradictory, but its draft decision is about a very different limit – what it believes is good for ecosystem health.  And on the nitrate toxicity score, the draft National Objectives Framework has set 6.9ml/l as the bottomline and the Tukituki is not even remotely close. 

So let’s park Dr Joy and focus on what we all want to achieve for the Tukituki. 

That means remembering why we started out in the first place.  It was to tackle an algae that’s been with us forever called Periphyton.  Everyone agrees it’s a problem so what’s the solution?

We get Periphyton because the Tukituki is a rocky river running warm during summer low flows.  Its growth is exacerbated by nitrogen and phosphorus so Hawke’s Bay Regional Council came up with a three-pronged approach hitting phosphorus, managing nitrogen and increasing water flows. 

In all the debate since, this environmental solution with strong economic benefits has been parked out of sight.

You can only increase water flow during summer by storing rainwater and that’s where Ruataniwha comes in.  This extra water helps to cool the Tukituki during summer while flushing it of Periphyton.  That’s been the experience of South Canterbury’s Opuha scheme on a similar river. 

We’ve had a similar improvement in the Waiareka Creek from the North Otago Irrigation Company scheme.

It used to be little more than a series of stagnant ponds. Now with guaranteed minimum flows from irrigation water it runs clean and wildlife has re-established.

Another experience is the economic boon Opuha has been to South Canterbury.

Yet during the Board of Inquiry, Dr Joy’s colleague Dr Death, helped to shift the focus off Periphyton and towards the stream life of rivers using a model developed for the Manawatu; a very different river to our Tukituki. Arguably, that’s how a limit of 0.8mg/l entered the minds of the Board of Inquiry, but how many invertebrates found in water doesn’t correlate to any one nutrient. 

Ironically, it was Fish and Game’s Corina Jordan who confirmed that while nitrogen and clearly phosphorus have impacts, so does river flow, sediment, light intensity and temperature.  The upshot being that there is no straight line relationship between a limit of 0.8mg/l and invertebrate health. 

Farmers like me are not in denial because Federated Farmers is okay with having a number, but that number must be an indicator and not chiselled into granite.  Especially since that number was derived from a model not validated for the Tukituki River and especially since Dr Death’s use of the Macroinvertebrate Community Index happens to be an indicator itself.

The Hawke’s Bay community needs a solution but the proposed limit of 0.8mg/l is so blunt, it makes Ruataniwha untenable. 

The Port of Napier is right to call Ruataniwha a game changer for the entire Hawke’s Bay region.  Before Ruataniwha’s viability was compromised we were talking about a quarter of a billion dollar boost each and every year.  If 0.8 remains as a hard limit, it not only kills the dam but means the region going forward will become $50 million poorer each year.  

Unless 0.8 becomes an indicator it will seriously compromise all the farming we currently have.  We’re not just talking sheep and beef but the guys who grow crops, the guys who run orchards, those who milk and even the guys who grow the grapes our region is famous for.

A hard limit of 0.8 means no Ruataniwha leaving us with Periphyton, a worsening economy and increasingly, rivers suffering from ever lower and warmer flows due to drought.  If farms convert to forestry we can possibly add sediment to that list.  Can anyone tell me what the environmental or community upside is? 

Dr Doug Edmeades wrote recently, “the best pieces of advice I was given as a young scientist: ‘Edmeades, I do not give a damn for your opinion what are the facts.”  Opinion seems the basis for 0.8mg/l but it is fact that it’s 14 times more stringent than the international standard for drinking water.  Don’t damn our dam.

Water storage and the irrigation it enables can improve both water quantity and quality.

It provides recreational opportunities and a significant economic boost. Farmers will make the biggest investment and take the biggest risk but as the people rallying yesterday obviously realise the benefits will flow right through the community in more jobs and more business opportunities with the economic and social boost that will bring.

The people of Hawkes Bay spoke through their support for the rally yesterday.

The Regional Council will show whether or not it heard them when it makes it decision on supporting the project, or not.


Don’t damn dam rally

June 20, 2014

Two Waipawa businessmen who are organising a rally in Waipukurau to support the proposed Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme:

Gavin Streeter and Shane Heaton are directors of Isaac’s Pumping and Electrical and have taken it upon themselves to show there is grassroots backing for the project.

“The project has been bashed to pieces in the media with the coverage focusing on the Environmental Protection Authority and how councillors are voting.

“We want to take a different approach – this is a rally by the people for the people – the entire Hawke’s Bay community needs to get behind this and show their support in the face of the negative attention the process is receiving,” Mr Streeter said.

Through their business they deal with farmers as customers and said there is a lot of positivity in the farming community about the project.

“The farmers have been doing their bit over the last few months. We thought we would do something on behalf of the local business owners, as it’s not only the farmers who would benefit from this.

Contrary to the anti-irrigation brigade irrigation doesn’t just benefit farmers.

They put up most of the money and have most at risk but the benefit is spread through the community to those who work for, service and supply them.

“If it goes ahead, it might mean we could employ five more local people at our business,” said Mr Heaton.

To that end they were out and about beating the streets in Waipukurau yesterday, visiting as many businesses as they could to spread the word about the rally dubbed “Don’t damn the dam”.

“We don’t just want people from Central Hawke’s Bay to attend, though. We want the big industries in Hawke’s Bay such as Pan Pac, Heinz Watties and McCains to get involved too – this project will have long-term benefits for the whole region,” Mr Streeter said. . .

Those industries will benefit too with more produce to process and sell, which will create more jobs.

Federated Farmers is backing the rally:

“We are calling on every person and business in Hawke’s Bay who wants to have a better future here, to get in their car, ute, tractor or truck and be at Waipukurau’s memorial hall car park on Friday at 12pm,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay provincial president.

“This Friday is our chance to show New Zealand how much Hawke’s Bay wants to create a positive future for our kids and their kids. The dam will provide so much opportunity for Hawke’s Bay.

“We are expecting a strong show of support and are positively backing Ruataniwha because this is our last shot before the Board of Inquiry delivers its final decision.

“Nothing of any worth has ever come from being negative.

“That’s why we need a positive show of support to demonstrate what we the people who live here want. The feeling in the community is positive and we need to make a stand to show how much of a game changer the dam is going to be for the region.

“The South Island’s Opuha scheme is a shining example of how the whole water storage package works for the economy and the environment.

“The answer to reversing the population drift to Auckland and reversing the loss of businesses and services is as simple as ‘just add water.’

“Federated Farmers is okay with having a number for nitrogen, but let’s make it an indicator and not chiselled in granite.  The whole scheme’s viability hinges on this policy point.

“That will only happen if we show everyone just what Ruataniwha means to us.

“You can do that by making a slogan banner to hang off your vehicle this Friday at midday at Waipukurau’s memorial hall car park,” Mr Foley concluded. . . .

From outside Hawkes Bay seems to have it all – good climate, good soils, a variety of viable businesses, a vibrant arts community . . . .

But it has an underbelly with high unemployment and the social problems which go with it and it’s drought-prone.

Irrigation would provide insurance against droughts, boost other businesses and create more jobs.

This is the province’s chance to lay a strong foundation for the future and the rally will indicate whether the people are willing to take it.


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